Who hasn’t set a goal to get more fit, learn a new language, or take a dream vacation? We frequently use goals in our personal lives because they help us stay focused on the things we want to achieve. Sometimes we set goals but we aren’t quite ready to achieve them. If you haven’t exercised in a few years, running 10 miles your first time back in sneakers might be overly ambitious. But a 10-mile run could be totally achievable with the right preparation. Just like individuals, organizations use goals to stay focused and achieve success. And just like individuals, organizations sometimes set goals that don’t lead to the outcomes they want or expect. But, the right prep work can get them there.
What high-performing organizations are doing (and not doing)
We studied the performance management practices of more than 1,000 organizations globally across all industries to see what drives outcomes. We identified how high-performing organizations use goals and saw there are clear differences between the outcomes they are able to achieve compared to the outcomes of lower-performing organizations. Not only do they use goals differently, but they also avoid using goals counterproductively (like our exhausted runner) and focus on using goals that are workforce centered and productivity oriented.